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Live Reporting

Edited by Sarah Collerton and James Clarke

All times stated are UK

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  1. Goodbye

    That's all from the live page for today.

    The updates have been brought to you by Lauren Turner, Robert Greenall, Marie Jackson, Jennifer Meierhans, Patrick Jackson, Sarah Collerton and James Clarke.

    We'll be back tomorrow morning.

  2. Wednesday's round-up

    St James' Park, London

    We'll shortly be bringing our live coverage to an end but, for now, here are the latest headlines from the UK and around the world:

    • Public Health England medical director Dr Yvonne Doyle has warned people not to drop their guard as restrictions start to lift and the weather improves. "We're not out of the woods quite yet," she warns
    • Outdoor hospitality in Wales - including cafes, pubs and restaurants - could reopen from 26 April, the Welsh government says
    • Malta says UK travellers who've had both doses of the coronavirus vaccine are welcome from June
    • The UK has recorded a further 43 coronavirus deaths, within 28 days of a diagnosis. And for the first time the daily number of second vaccine doses given to people in the UK outnumbers first doses
    • Two parks in Nottingham closed to the public after large crowds gathered, leaving rubbish and failing to socially distance
    • Some big names in fashion and retail are calling for a "Shop Out to Help Out" scheme to get people spending again when non-essential stores in England reopen on 12 April
    • French schools are to close for at least three weeks as part of new national restrictions to fight rising cases, President Macron says
    • Vaccine maker Pfizer says US trials on 12 to 15-year-olds show 100% efficacy and a strong immune response.
    • War-torn Yemen has received its first vaccines via the global Covax scheme, a week after the government warned of a health emergency caused by its second wave
    • There were more than 3.3 million deaths in the US in 2020, the country's highest ever total, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  3. Analysis: Macron offers France a message of hope

    Hugh Schofield

    BBC News, Paris

    President Macron says it is a race between vaccination on the one hand and the hastening spread of the virus on the other, especially the so-called British variant.

    If nothing is done, he says, then the country risks losing control. And so he is calling on the French to make a supplementary effort for the month of April.

    From this weekend the restrictions currently in place in 19 departments will be extended across all of France. These include the closure of non-essential shops and a ban on movement without proper cause more than 10 kilometres from home.

    In addition schools will shut from this weekend for three or four weeks depending on the age-group.

    But the president says the accelerating vaccination programme means there is a clear reason to hope. If we organise ourselves for the coming weeks, he says, then we will see the end of the tunnel.

  4. France will start to reopen in mid-May - Macron

    Returning now to the lockdown announcement from President Emmanuel Macron, who has predicted: "We will start to reopen the country from mid-May."

    The French leader stressed the need to continue the vaccination drive, saying: "We are doing everything we can to vaccinate, vaccinate without respite, without days off."

  5. Serial killer died days after Covid diagnosis

    Peter Sutcliffe

    Serial killer Peter Sutcliffe died in November last year at the age of 74. At the time we knew he'd tested positive for Covid but now we know he died just eight days after that test.

    Sutcliffe, known as the Yorkshire Ripper, was serving a whole-life term for murdering 13 women when he tested positive for the virus on 5 November and died on 13 November.

    An inquest has heard he had previously suffered from diabetes and heart disease, known risk factors for Covid-19, and had a pacemaker fitted on 2 November.

    The coroner says a post-mortem examination confirmed severe heart disease, including stenosis of three coronary arteries.

    He adds: "The main finding was very heavy, solid and airless lungs, highly typical of adult respiratory distress syndrome, this is a characteristic feature of individuals dying of Covid-19 infection."

  6. French schools to close for three weeks

    A member of the French public watches President Macron's statement on television
    Image caption: President Macron announced the new lockdown measures on television

    French schools will close for three weeks, two of which will be holidays, President Macron has announced. An exception will be made for classes for the children of essential workers.

    "It is the best solution to slow down the virus," Macron says.

    All but essential shops will close and home working will become the norm. Checks will be stepped up to stop public gatherings.

    The French leader called on his fellow citizens to make an "extra effort" in April.

  7. Limited lockdown to be imposed across France

    Medical staff load a Covid patient on to a stretcher after arriving on a plane at Vannes airport during a transfer operation from Lille to Vannes, France, March 31,
    Image caption: Some Covid patients in busy hospitals are being moved to regional hospitals

    French President Emmanuel Macron is to expand a limited lockdown to cover the whole of mainland France and Corsica for four weeks, in a bid to stem a resurgence in Covid-19 infections.

    He has been on prime-time TV to say the new measures will start on Saturday and last until 2 May.

    The president has been trying to avoid a third major lockdown amid accusations he let the crisis get out of control while trying to give the economy a chance to recover.

    France has seen daily new infections double from 20,000 in February to about 40,000 now, and hospitals in the capital Paris are overflowing.

    On Tuesday health authorities reported the highest daily number of new intensive care cases since April, with 569 recorded. The country has suffered at least 95,500 deaths and reported more than 4.6 million cases since the pandemic began.

    Emmanuel Macron, 1 March
    Image caption: Emmanuel Macron on a visit to a vaccination centre earlier this month
  8. Northern Ireland health minister gets AstraZeneca jab

    Robin Swann is vaccinated

    Northern Ireland's health minister Robin Swann has been given his first jab and says he had no qualms about getting the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

    You'll know the use of this particular vaccine has been suspended in parts of Europe among some age groups despite the EU and UK medicine regulators both backing it.

    Swann says he hopes his experience will help others who might be worried about getting theirs.

    "For those people who are still hesitant, still thinking about it, I'm comfortable to come here today and take the Oxford-AstraZeneca because my age profile now suits," he says.

    It comes as people in Northern Ireland aged 45 to 49 have became eligible to get a vaccine.

  9. Analysis: Lots of numbers, but still no link

    Philippa Roxby

    Health reporter, BBC News

    The European Medicines Agency says there is “no evidence” to restrict the use of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine in any age group.

    But it says it still cannot rule out a link between the vaccine and a rare form of blood clot in the brain in a small number of under-60s, which has led to a pause in the vaccine’s rollout in Germany and Denmark in some younger age groups.

    This afternoon the EMA has offered up some new numbers in an effort to paint a picture of what’s going on.

    It says one case of the rare blood clot (cerebral venous sinus thrombosis or CVST) has been reported for every 100,000 doses of the AZ vaccine given in the under-60s. How this compares directly to normal levels is not known, but the EMA hinted it was above the normal rate.

    But that still doesn’t clear up whether the clots are caused by the vaccine or are a complete coincidence and would have happened anyway.

    This type of blood clot is more likely to occur in women than men and more likely to occur in women aged 30-45 than other age groups, the EMA says.

    So an above-normal rate could be due to the make-up of the people who’ve been vaccinated so far. In the EU, AZ has predominantly been offered to healthcare workers who are mostly women.

    In the UK, where more than 12 million doses of AZ have been administered, the vaccine has mostly gone to older age groups.

    And there were more figures… 4.8 cases of these rare blood clots have occurred per million AZ doses, compared with 0.2 cases per million Pfizer doses.

    What does it all mean? The EMA is still investigating and aims to reach a scientific conclusion by next week.

  10. Travel across Welsh border allowed from 12 April

    We're getting some more details on the lifting of restrictions in Wales.

    There's good news for holidaymakers with travel between Wales and the rest of the UK and Ireland to be allowed from 12 April, so long as there are low case rates.

    By that same date, all students in Wales will return to face-to-face education.

    Organised outdoor activities for up to 30 people could be allowed "by early May", say Welsh ministers.

    And outdoor attractions are also set to reopen on 26 April.

  11. How is Europe dealing with the third wave?

    People in masks in front of St Peter's, Rome

    Europe's vaccination campaign has been hit by delays and the number of infections is rising in many countries.

    Lockdowns are once again coming into force, as governments take action against a third wave.

    And we're expecting new measures for France to be announced by President Emmanuel Macron later this evening.

    Read more about how European countries are tackling the pandemic here.

  12. Pubs in Wales could reopen on 26 April

    Woman pulling a pint

    Outdoor pubs and restaurants in Wales can reopen on 26 April as long as coronavirus rates remain low, the Welsh government has said.

    First Minister Mark Drakeford will announce his latest moves to ease lockdown restrictions on Thursday.

    Ahead of his press conference, it was confirmed non-essential retail could reopen from 12 April, as in England.

    Ministers could also allow gyms to open for individual training by "early May".

    A decision on whether to permit pubs, restaurants and cafes to reopen outdoors had not been expected to be taken until 22 April at the earliest.

    Under current rules, bars and pubs can only sell takeaway alcoholic drinks, if they are already licenced to do so

  13. Record daily cases in Bangladesh

    Policeman speaks to rickshaw puller in Dhaka
    Image caption: Restrictions have been introduced on transport

    Bangladesh has recorded its highest number of coronavirus cases in a day since the pandemic began.

    Just over 5,300 infections were confirmed in a 24-hour period. Another 52 deaths have been recorded, the highest daily figure for seven months.

    One report says there are just four available ICU beds at dedicated government Covid hospitals in the capital, Dhaka.

    Strict measures have been introduced - all motorbike ride-sharing services are banned and other public transport is to operate at 50% capacity. Public gatherings in high infection areas are also prohibited.

  14. In charts: Covid-19 numbers in the UK

    We have some more detail - in charts - on the latest coronavirus figures for the UK we reported earlier.

    First, here's a snap look at the latest figures overall:

    Covid-19 figures in the UK

    The number of cases is continuing to level off, at an average of 4,844 new confirmed infections a day over the past seven days.

    New Covid-19 cases in the UK

    Deaths are continuing to fall, with the seven-day average at 47.

    Covid-19 deaths in the UK

    The most recent government figures show 4,176 people with coronavirus in hospital in the UK.

    Numbers in mid-January reached almost double the highest point of the peak last spring, but have been falling overall since then.

    UK hospital figures

    When it comes to the UK's vaccination programme, we're seeing the average number of first doses each day declining as the focus shifts to ensuring people get their second doses on time.

    And, as we reported earlier, as this trend continues, we've seen second doses of Covid-19 vaccine outnumber first doses for the first time.

    A total of 270,526 second doses were registered on 30 March, compared with 224,590 first doses.

    Covid-19 vaccinations in the UK
  15. Litter left after crowds gather in sunshine

    Video content

    Video caption: Covid in Wales: Litter left after crowds gather in tourist spots

    Public spaces have been left covered in litter after crowds gathered in the sun in Wales.

    Beauty spots and tourist attractions were busier than usual after travel restrictions were eased on Saturday, allowing people to visit areas outside their local area.

    The steps outside the Senedd in Cardiff Bay and Pontcanna Fields were covered with empty bottles, cans and food packaging as people made the most of the hottest day of the year on Tuesday.

    Cardiff Council said it took cleaning teams more than three hours to clear up the mess left in Cardiff Bay.

  16. US annual death toll highest ever in 2020

    Flags at half mast at Washington monument in memory of US Covid deaths
    Image caption: Flags flew at half mast in Washington DC when the US passed 500,000 Covid deaths in February

    The overall number of deaths in the US in 2020 was more than 3.3 million, the country's highest ever total, data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

    The report said Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death.

    Some 375,000 American deaths were caused by the virus last year, compared to 690,000 by heart disease and 598,000 by cancer. When this year's figures are included, more than 550,000 overall have now died of Covid.

    The virus also displaced suicide as one of the top 10 leading causes of death.

    Death rates overall were highest among African Americans and Native Americans, while Covid death rates were highest among Hispanics, the report said.

  17. Chancellor opposed September circuit-breaker

    People walking through London's Chinatown

    Rishi Sunak, the UK's chancellor, has admitted he was against having a circuit-break lockdown in September, insisting there "wasn't a clear-cut case" for one.

    Back in September, cases in the UK were rising sharply and scientists were warning the country was at a "critical point" in the pandemic, prompting the prime minister to consider a two-week circuit breaker.

    The idea of a circuit-breaker is to impose a tight set of restrictions designed to bring down case numbers.

    The rules may well have been a lot like lockdown but crucially a circuit-breaker is for a fixed period of time - with the hope being it's less damaging to the economy and people's mental health.

    In an interview with ITV's Robert Peston, Sunak said all the decisions taken were "ultimately" made by Boris Johnson.

    "Everyone's job in the cabinet is to provide the prime minister with the best advice that they can in their area of expertise," he said.

    "You'd expect me, in my job, to talk about the impact on people's jobs and livelihoods, and ultimately things that are bad for the economy are bad for our long-term health as well and our ability to fund things like the NHS.

    "And those things have to go into the decision.

    "These are difficult decisions to make, and it's why we weigh up all those factors. And, at the time, it wasn't a clear-cut case," he said.

  18. War-torn Yemen gets first delivery of vaccines

    Unicef staff celebrate the arrival of the first shipment of Covid-19 vaccines to Yemen, at Aden's airport (31 March 2021)
    Image caption: Unicef said the first delivery of doses came at "a critical moment for Yemen"

    Yemen has received its first vaccines via the global Covax scheme, a week after the government warned of a health emergency caused by its second wave of Covid-19.

    A plane carrying 360,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in India arrived in Aden, the government’s temporary capital, the World Health Organization said.

    “Yemen now has the capacity to protect those most at risk, including health workers, so that they can safely continue to provide life-saving interventions for children and families,” said Unicef’s representative in Yemen, Philippe Duamelle.

    The government has said the vaccines will be distributed across the country and that another shipment is expected in May. Yemen is due to receive 1.9 million in total this year.

    Six years of civil war in Yemen have caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with 20 million people in need of aid.

    Experts have struggled to understand the full scale of the country’s Covid-19 outbreak due to a shortage of testing, poor access to medical care and a lack of official reporting.

    The government has reported 4,100 cases and 864 deaths in total. But the rebel Houthi movement, which controls areas where the bulk of the population lives, has provided no data since May.

  19. WHO advises against anti-parasite drug as Covid treatment

    Bolivian man holds a bottle of the drug ivermectin
    Image caption: Ivermectin is popular in Bolivia, though the health ministry there says there is no evidence of its effectiveness as a treatment for Covid

    The World Health Organization has recommended that the generic anti-parasite drug ivermectin not be used on Covid-19 patients except within clinical trials.

    Ivermectin is approved for treating worm infestations and for veterinary use.

    It has been touted on social media as a miracle cure for coronavirus and used on Covid patients in South America. Doctors in South Africa have been campaigning for it to be licensed.

    However, the drug's manufacturer, Merck, and regulatory bodies in several countries have already ruled that it is not a safe or effective treatment.

  20. We cannot drop our guard, England health boss warns

    Public Health England medical director Dr Yvonne Doyle has warned in terms of the pandemic "we're not quite out of the woods yet".

    "It is encouraging that the death rate is falling, but there are still as many people in hospital now as there were at the start of the second wave, and tens of thousands of us are getting infected every week and could become seriously ill," she says.

    "As restrictions lift and the weather improves, we cannot drop our guard. We're not out of the woods quite yet.

    "Until all of us are protected it remains essential to follow the steps we know stop the virus from spreading. Kill it by washing your hands, block it by wearing your mask, and maintain a safe social distance in the open air.

    "Case numbers are still high in certain places and looking forward they are certainly not predictable. So your actions are still saving lives."